Updated: Jun 27, 2020
We've talked in the past about the importance of the gym, not just for physical fitness but also for mental wellbeing. Some weeks you may work a lot or not be well enough to make the gym (or you just can't be arsed with walking hard-ons in string vests) or you may even want an extra boost in addition to the gym and this is where the health and wellness apps would come into play.
I've found that apps have been a welcome addition while I've been trying to find peace of mind in the past year. The gym has been somewhere I can focus and relax my mind (if I go in the day, woe betide anybody who visits between 5 and 8 pm) but discovering an entire world of apps aimed at health and wellbeing has been another welcome addition to my daily routines.
This one is basically for recording calories, fitness targets, steps and sleep all in one place, you can link it to My Fitness Pal & Map My Ride and upload all your details and it creates as detailed a breakdown of your trips as possible. It may be a cycle, walk or run but it's a great place to track your progress along with all your calorie counting etc. You can set yourself challenges and track things over set times.
This is more focused on the fitness side but great for days that you want to stay in but get that prang of guilt in the back of your mind! They say it's like having a Personal trainer on your phone (I don't think anything beats actually having a PT) and there are a number of set workouts from beginner to intermediate level. There are free workouts available but to unlock more, such as tailored workouts, you pay a subscription so it depends on your finances on this one.
Movesum is quite a simple one but it involves having your phone on you as it tracks steps and lets you know what food and drink you've earned based on the steps that you've taken that day. I often leave my phone lying around so it's never that accurate but when I went up Snowdon it said I earned 3 cheeseburgers and I felt a little hard done by! It doesn't consider difficulty levels or elevation so it's not accurate but it's a bit of fun!
Recommended by a friend recently due to me losing my previous morning routine to tiredness, I thought I'd try this out. You select the kind of person you are from a number of different descriptions (I am "Everyman" apparently) and it sets a routine for yourself. It's helped me stretch of a morning and have a few minutes of solitude before getting ready. There are quite a lot of adverts on this app which is its downfall.
Seven is based on the idea that moving for seven minutes a day is achievable and the workouts are built to make a difference in just seven minutes. Again there is a simpler, free version where you can pick a standard workout or random workouts and a paid version where you can build your own workouts and access more of the app.
We discussed this in great detail here. After Ben had tried it out and I really enjoyed reading about his experience I tried it myself! It had an opposite effect on me in that it really, really relaxed me and is not good for when I need to get up and go but great for when I need to calm and meditate. Wim Hof is infectious and the app has videos by him that really encourage you and motivate, I love the guy and I think anybody with physical or mental "issues" should give this a go - it's fixed Restless Legs for some and for others it gives peace of mind and for Ben, it helped him have less of a need for caffeine.
4. Podcasts App
Not essentially a "wellness app" but it taps into an endless world of Podcasts where wellness, fitness and mental health are reoccurring subjects. Jo Rogan, for me, is a great starting point as he has so many guests that have their own podcasts and lots of in-depth discussions where you can learn so much.
When you join Headspace it asks you to select what bought you there (stress and anxieties, sleep problems, a desire to move more etc). There's a little emoji guy who looks like a Cheese String who helps you set up your account. You can then choose to have mindful reminders pop up on your phone, as mindfulness is something I'm working on I switched this on. I have an iPhone so I could link this to my Apple Health app so it logs "mindful minutes." As with other apps, there is a basic version and a paid version and it appears there's a significant difference on this app.
2. Simple Habit
This was my breakthrough meditation app. Nothing else seemed to get me doing it regularly but as a beginner to meditating the first few sessions talked you through the point and purpose of them, the narrator sounds like Matthew McConaughey and I can't think of a more relaxing tone and accent to guide you through the meditating process! Really calm, really informative without being patronising. Great app.
I'm not currently tracking my calories but this is something I've done in the past and this app is perfect for this. There are a number of other calorie counting apps that I've tried but this is by far the most user-friendly and can be linked to other fitness apps. It saves previously used combinations of ingredients and you can save favourites etc, it works pretty damn well! When I first started using this it was a real eye-opener as to how you can decimate a good day of eating with something so small, like a glug of oil or bit of proper butter on toast. This app worked wonders for me.
Bonus Advice! Delete Facebook!
Ok ok, this is not an app but if you want to work on peace and clarity of mind then there can be nothing better than deactivating or deleting Facebook. If you can't bring yourself to it then just delete the app and only go on it when you open a laptop. When I deactivated Facebook three weeks ago my phone usage went down 25% in the first week and I have found picking up my phone now leads to more productivity, work-related things and just general reading or usage of the apps mentioned above.